Minocqua electors Thursday night soundly rejected a controversial proposal to build a new shelter in Torpy Park.
Officials said the vote, 164 to 99, effectively ends further discussion over whether to put a shelter in the lower end of the park, between the historic pavilion and the Minocqua Brewing Company.
The vote came amid a packed gymnasium in the Minocqua Center for a special town meeting. Rough estimates indicate the meeting drew around 300 people, including both electors and non-electors.
The town board had been considering whether to build the shelter since January, and was partnering with the Minocqua Lions Club, which had offered to pay for half of the project.
Work toward designing and financing the shelter moved along through the winter and spring largely without notice until early May, when 11 trees in the park were marked for removal to make space for the shelter.
Numerous citizens then raised concerns about the trees and the size of the shelter, which was slated to be 56 feet by 96 feet.
The town board subsequently held a special forum about the park, and more than 170 people attended.
In response to the uproar, the town and the Lions Club scaled down the shelter design to 30 by 80 feet.
Under the revised design, just one tree would have had to be removed.
That tree and four others, which numerous tree experts have said are in a state of decline and could be dangerous, will still be cut down despite Thursday’s vote. A lawyer for the town’s insurance company advised last month that trees posing a potential hazard must be removed immediately.
The town held the vote Thursday because under state law, towns must obtain consent from electors to erect structures.
After results of the vote were announced, town of Minocqua Chairperson Mark Hartzheim said he did not anticipate the board would spend additional efforts to build a new shelter in the park.
“All I would say is the people have spoken,” Hartzheim said in an interview. “I don’t think it’s much more complex than that.”
Jim Ellis, president of the Minocqua Lions Club, similarly said that the club would not pursue a new shelter.
“On behalf of the Minocqua Lions, we respect the vote of the town of Minocqua,” Ellis said. “We will continue to move forward, and we will continue to serve the community the best way we know possible.”
Also Thursday night, town electors authorized the sale of a portion of Torpy Park to the Minocqua Brewing Company for $10,000. Parts of the brewery are encroaching into the park.
The sale of the property, if approved by brewing company owner Dan White, would rectify the encroachment.
White declined to confirm Thursday whether he would proceed with the sale, but said of the vote: “I’m very happy it went through.”
The Lakeland Times will have the full story in Tuesday’s edition.
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014
Article comment by:
It would be benifical to both the locals and the tourists if The Lions Club would put the $50k towards refurbishing the existing PAVILLION. That was the sum they were willing to pay towards HALF a new PAVILLION.